The crest for the Great Bend Fire Department reads: Professionalism, teamwork, self-discipline, safety, caring.
Fire Chief Luke McCormick told the City Council Monday night these values mirror those the city came up with for the new citywide strategic plan. The city values statement of PRIDE stands for professionalism, responsibility and accountability, innovation and teamwork, diversity and engagement, and ethics and integrity.
“These will tie right into that,” he said. “We always want to carry ourselves in the manner that we are professional people and we are just out helping people.”
Two major house fires recently (both occurring on the same for the same shift) were a testament to this as one of the blazes required the rescue of an inhabitant. “We are serving today so we can protect you tomorrow,” he said.
McCormick gave the council an overview and update on departmental activities. There are three shifts at each of the two fire stations with as many as 10 firefighters, captains and battalion chiefs on duty at a time.
Station One is downtown and Station Two is on West 10th.
The department oversees both building inspections and fire service. Office, inspections and code enforcement personnel include:
• Inspector Logan Burns
• Permit Technician Maggie Glynn
• Code Enforcement Officer Stuart Baker
• Fire Inspector Mark Orth
• Ambulance billing Michele Hitschmann
A new position
New this year is the hiring of deputy fire chief. Brent Smith was hired earlier this year having worked in Sedgwick County and Chanute.
McCormick said he brings a lot of experience to the department and will add to that knowledge to day-to-day operations and training.
For fire coverage, the chief said his department handles Great Bend as well as a 156-square-mile area of south central Barton County. Emergency Medical Services covers that area plus the south west corner of the county for a region spanning 252 square miles.
• Turn-out time less than 40 seconds, one that is being met now.
“That’s from the time we receive the alarm until we roll out of the door,” he said. “That’s the one time factor we have control of. We can’t control how fast dispatch gets us the call, we can’t control how fast people get us the call and we can’t control traffic going to the call.”
• “Provide outstanding fire and EMS services by highly trained and qualified personnel.”
• Insure the public that buildings are constructed and maintained with a safety focus.
• Clean up city nuisance and unsafe properties by working with the owners in most cost effective way.
2019 fire/EMS calls
• 2,108 total incidents
• 1,796 EMS
• 312 fire
• Pre-incident property value - $4,643,340
• Incident loss value - $611,370
• Average turn-out time - 32 seconds
2019 Building Department
• 388 Building permits
• 136 Electrical permits
• 129 Mechanical permits
• 113 Plumbing permits
• 61 Sign permits
• Permits account for an estimated $14,569,340 in new building.
• A handful of Great Bend Fire Department personnel attended multi-day swift-water and boat op training at RiverSport Rapids in the Oklahoma City, Okla. This is a recreational facility that also offers assorted safety courses in conjunction with Oklahoma State University and Mid America Rescue Company.
Great Bend is part of the Kansas Task Force 5 through, a pool of fire departments in the south central part of the state. Great Bend participated as a part of this group.
These agencies share resources and are often called upon to assist with disasters around the country. The Task Force is through the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office, but is ultimately funded via the federal Department of Homeland Security.
This training has come in handy, McCormick said. The water rescue team was called to help in Larned and in Albert.
• Some firefighters also took part in the 2019 Kansas Task Force 5 State Operation Readiness Drill as part of the task force. This was held at Crisis City near Salina, a training facility established by the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department.
This focused on urban search and rescue and brought together eight departments for a 35-member team, including Great Bend. It simulated a house collapsing on a car with person trapped inside.
“It’s great training that we hope we never have to use in our community,” he said. “But if we do, we’ve got the resources to bring in.”
• Locally, there’s been training using vehicles from Marmie Motors for crash victim extrication and at the Great Bend Events Center for building entry.
Fire Prevention 2019
The theme this year was “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape: Plan and Practice Your Escape!”
Takes about the entire month of October to visit all the schools, the chief said.
• 2,198 Students participated in the Fire prevention program.
• 1,515 Students attended the kitchen safety demo and featured a grease fire and how to properly use a fire extinguisher.
• 228 Kindergartners received fire hats.
• 450 pre-school age students presented first fire prevention talk.
• 79 students identified needing smoke detectors. Mpire Realty will help purchase the detectors.
“It was real well received by the community,” he said of the programming.
• Hosting and advanced emergency medical technician course. This will be done in-house to keep the cost down.
• Enhance fire training with Deputy Chief Brent Smith.
• Continue with officer leadership and development training.
We are recognizing that we have a lot of years in our battalion chief level and at some point, they are going to retire. When they do, that is a lot of years of service that I am going to have to replace.”
• Training for Inspector Training Logan Burns.
• Recruit and training new firefighters. The department was fully staffed in August, but now it is down two personnel.
• 800 Mhz Radio System. “We know that is an expensive step,” he said.
The city is working with the county on this effort. They are developing an implementation plan with a target date of 2020-2021.
• Develop a 10 year revolving equipment replacement plan.
• Identify the service life of all capital equipment.
• Identify the optimum replacement life of all capital equipment (trade –in-value versus depreciation).